Call the Wahmbulance: It’s So Hard Being Popular!

I’ve got a main gripe about live performances from artists with “big” songs who don’t play them: It’s just fucking selfish.

This blog was originally going to be about how Al Jourgensen (Ministry, Revolting Cocks, etc) sucks and how he sullied everything he started by giving a fucking TERRIBLE final tour in terms of the sets Ministry played. Ministry was my gateway drug into industrial along with Nine Inch Nails and a few other bands, and I still count Al’s works as a major inspiration for what I do. That makes it almost doubly disappointing that last year’s final Ministry tour focused pretty much exclusively on all the non-Paul Barker Ministry albums, aka everything post-Animositisomina. While I don’t hate those CDs at all, especially The Last Sucker and Houses of the Mole, he ignored EVERYTHING else until the last 30 minutes or so of the show. For a career retrospective, it rewrote the band’s history pretty heavily.

Same with the Revolting Cocks. It was known for its revolving door policy for contributors, but it’s now an industrial fucking Menudo with a bunch of guys, who for all intents and purposes are far from untalented, but they also are NOT the Revolting Cocks. Uncle Al is only going to even be appearing at a HANDFUL of the tourdates they just announced, and since William Tucker is no longer on this mortal coil, and Paul Barker and Chris Connelly (whose biography documenting his days in Ministry/RevCo is AMAZING) are doing other stuff, well…yup, fuckin’ Menudo.

Which brings me in a very roundabout way to my main point: If you’re an artist that has been blessed with a song (or even more blessed with multiple SONGS) that people love and want to hear, PLAY THEM THOSE SONGS. Trent Reznor has trotted out Head Like a Fucking Hole for 20-plus years now and (incredibly) still gives it his all.  Most artists will barely have a song you remember two minutes after you hear it, let alone a “hit”. 

There are worse crosses to bear, is all I’m saying.

Frankly, I would have dropped a few songs years ago from my live setlists, but people still want to hear them, I’m being paid (ahahahahaha) to entertain them, and goddammit I’m gonna do it. Does that mean I feel like mustering up the enthusiasm to do The Hustle again? Not always, no. But I do feel as if there’s a trade-off of me doing some stuff I really feel like performing AND giving the people what they want/know.

I give artists shit who flat-out refuse to play certain songs and it’s not out of disrespect to their “vision” or the fact that those artists have moved on artistically or whatever. I just think dismissal of your fans is disrespectful to THEM. Hell, if you’re sick of that version change it up a bit and surprise people with it, but totally denying someone something they love because YOU’RE sick of it…well, you shouldn’t have released it to begin with then. This doesn’t mean a song needs to be played every show, either. I think all artists who have played live enough deserve to give a track or two a rest, but don’t dismiss all of them simply because they’re popular.

Nobody can tell where lightening will strike, but don’t deny it ever existed when it burned your house down, y’know?

And Al– play the fucking RevCo tour. And stop pretending like Paul, Chris, William, and Bill, etc didn’t contribute a fuckton to your indsustrial metal empire.


A Fan Who Was Happy You At Least Played Thieves


9 responses to “Call the Wahmbulance: It’s So Hard Being Popular!

  1. yeah im glad i missed the ministry finale…i had heard bad things and i wa thinking the same, youre one of the most legendary and influential bands why do that…band like stereolab though i can see and forgive them for not playing hits because they dont have many and their very nature is to explore musics bounderies…but in this scene where its the dance floor that rates you well yeah, you better play head or assimilate…i just kinda feel sorry for people like aryia who basically only have the one hit so it becomes encore, best for last kinda thing which sucks because it means were all waiting til the end to hear it…oh well…hell i saw her open for voltaire and she didnt even play it…i was shocked..not that im a fan of hers or anything but still you get the point…imagine if the rolling stones didnt play satisfaction…yeah, kinda like that…eh what do i know…FREEBIRD!!

  2. I seriously couldn’t say it any better. You know who does a great job of this is Depeche Mode. They have an ASSLOAD of songs people demand to hear and they play them…. it is just they are practically rewritten every tour. I’ve heard Personal Jesus played straight, with just acoustic guitar and drums, an old school electro version… it is just awesome. I think by mixing it up, everybody wins. And one time I saw New Order and they didn’t fucking play Blue Monday. Asshats.

  3. We caught The Church on their way through Minneapolis a few years ago and were really disappointed that they only played their newest material. Half the reason we even went to the show was to hear the older stuff (yes, we were aware that there would be a lot of newer stuff, because the tour was promoting a new album).

    • To me it’s just being professional and knowing where you’re either a) whoring, or b) being completely self-indulgent. There’s a balance that can be found. People who have never seen you live will be happy to hear “hits” and people who have seen you 50 times will be happy to hear some stuff that’s new or not as known by the masses.

  4. I saw this taken to an extreme when Combichrist played here in Columbus a while back. A good-sized chunk of the crowd was yelling for “This Shit Will Fuck You Up” the entire show, and the band finally broke down and played it at the end, skipping the songs that were originally planned for the encore (based on setlists from other shows).

    Several things about this were annoying:

    – that song was literally the only one most of the people screaming had EVER HEARD from the band. This is the consequence of shithead local DJs who have actually said, “it’s good that we always play the same songs in the same order; our regulars know what’s coming up next”. ARGH.

    – it’s essentially an INSTRUMENTAL track. The vocals are all samples. Not the best for moving the crowd live, doubtless why they skipped it, and why it made a shitty last song of the show.

    • Combi played it on the last tour stop here in SF, but the crowd knew a ton of the songs. It was great to finally catch em live as well.

  5. Seriously, what did you miss from Ministry’s “supposedly last” tour?

    We got So What, Thieves, Just One Fix, Jesus Built my Hotrod, and a bunch more.

    Trent Reznor, on the other hand, did a ton of shit playlists for his “supposedly last” tour. While I enjoyed hearing a lot from The Fragile, and even a couple of songs from Broken, there was pretty much nothing from Pretty Hate Machine or The Downward Spiral, which are usually the fan favourites.
    Yeah, he played Head Like a Hole, but that was the only song from that album. Where was Sin or Terrible Lie, or Heresy, Reptile, or god damn CLOSER! Actually I don’t care for Closer, but I can imagine a lot of people were disappointed.
    More than half the concert was from the past couple of albums no one caresa about, and it was a festival show. Yeah that pissed me off a bit.

    • I didn’t see any of the final NIN stuff as I couldn’t make any of the dates. I just based it off the 5-6 times I’ve seen them previously.

      As for Ministry, they waited until the end of a 2.5 hr set to play a HANDFUL of old songs. They completely (if memory serves) ignored Land of Rape and Honey, Dark Side of the Spoon, Animositisomina, and Filth Pig to push all of the non-Barker stuff. 2 hrs of “W” songs followed by a sprinkling of 20-plus years of awesome is a big letdown, as was their insistance on playing UNDER MY FUCKING THUMB as their last track?!?! Give me a break.

      It was a shitty note to go out on, cool as all the balloons were.

      • Weird, they must have played a different show in Europe. We had no balloons, and they ended the show with a bunch of tracks from their cover album, which were actually pretty good. Especially the cover of What a Wonderful World had people going nuts in the pit, I loved it.

        And if NIN were different at every other show they played, I’m pretty pissed that the one show I saw sucked so hard.

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